Government asks charities for 'urgent help' to deal with newly-arrived child refugees

The government has asked charities for 'urgent help' to deal with child refugees. Credit: Reuters/Peter Nicholls

The Government has emailed charities asking for "urgent help" after admitting it doesn't have sufficient staff in place to care for newly-arrived child refugees.

ITV News has seen an email sent by an official at the Home Office in which it admits some of the accommodation centres chosen to house refugees arriving from the Calais 'Jungle' are run by staff with no experience of delivering care.

The email was sent to several charities this week as the government makes plans to bring up to 300 refugees from the camp before it is demolished later this month by French officials.

In it, the Home Office admits it has yet to finalise plans for places to house newly-arriving refugees.

The official tells charity chiefs the government will need to rely on volunteers who can help look after the children for a fortnight or longer until permanent plans can be put in place.

The email says: "The Home Office is looking for some urgent help, and you have been suggested as someone who might be able to help.

"You will be aware of the imminent closure of the camp in Calais.

"Following the recent announcement by the Home Secretary, we will be bringing those children in Calais who are eligible over to the UK.

"This is time critical due to the need to bring the children here prior to the camp being dismantled, and could be from as early as Monday."We are arranging accommodation and support for the children arriving in the UK with a number of providers, and this is likely to be in sites in and around London.

"But at least some of these providers will not have experience of delivering residential care services, and so we are trying to identify organisations in the voluntary and commercial care sectors who would be able, and willing, to release staff (on a voluntary basis, or paid via our selected providers) to work at the accommodation sites, supporting the providers to ensure that basic safeguarding standards and welfare services are delivered.

"We are likely to need this resource for minimum of two weeks, but probably for a few weeks longer."

The leaked email was sent on Monday from staff in the Home Office's Syrian Refugee Resettlement Programme team.

It comes amid controversy over the government's handling of the refugee crisis in Calais.

Groups on the ground in the 'Jungle' have accused the Home Office of failing to do enough to register the several hundred children who are believed to be living unaccompanied in the camp.

UK officials arrived last week to begin processing the migrants, several weeks after French President Francois Hollande vowed to close the camp by the end of October.

Since then a handful of refugees have been brought across the Channel for registration in Croydon, south London.

Many have relatives already in the UK, but most are believed to be being housed in government accommodation while checks are carried out on their families and their potential new homes.